The Department of Social & Family Affairs has confirmed that it is investigating an allegation in relation to the operation of the School Meals Programme.

The Department funds schools and voluntary community groups to provide food services for disadvantaged school children. The scheme cost €32m last year.

The Department deals directly with the schools concerned and not with the suppliers engaged by the schools.

The Department says any allegations of fraud or abuse of the social welfare system are taken very seriously and fully investigated, but it cannot comment on individual cases of fraud or abuse until they have been successfully prosecuted through the courts.

However it is understood the case currently being investigated involves a sum of money in the region of €750,000.